via Creative Commons
A recent study from a student at Flinders University shows that in the Southern Ocean the combination of sperm whale feces (poo) and Phytoplankton can be extremely beneficial to the environment. The process has a lot to do with the circle of life. It could even ban whaling.
The study by PhD student Trish Lavery from Flinders University finds that feces from a sperm whale in the Southern Ocean is rich in iron. The sperm whales defecate on the Phytoplankton (microscopic plants that live in the ocean). The Phytoplankton then uses this iron to grow and trap carbon. The Phytoplankton do not release the carbon until they die and then the carbon sinks down deep in the ocean.
This is how the whales offset their carbon emissions. According to Ms. Lavery, each year sperm whales from the Southern Ocean offset approximately 400,000 tons of carbon from the atmosphere. She also believes it is possible that other marine animals are also capable of offsetting their emissions in the same way (Flinders News).
Could this study by Ms. Lavery help eliminate or at least help reduce whaling in the Southern Ocean? Only time will tell. For more information on this study visit Flinders University online. Also, Ms. Lavery's study can be found in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, Biological Sciences (latest edition).
and Flinders News